Postgame Quotes: #8 Tennessee 82, MTSU 43

Nov. 29, 2011

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(general comments)
"It's a good thing to break that two-game losing streak. We played with high energy and it came from the players. They challenged each other to come into the game with lots of high energy and it's obvious they did that.

"We knew that Middle would come into the game and take it to us from the opening tip. We started out with a couple of turnovers but settled down and got the game in hand."

(on Shekinna Stricklen)
"Shekinna came ready to play and showed some really good leadership to start the first half. I think she really got us going.

(on the bench)
"Thought we had some really good energy and play from our bench. Everyone came in and contributed. It was great to get them some really quality minutes. It's always good when you can spread the minutes around."

(on Cierra Burdick)
"I was really pleased with the way Cierra Burdick responded coming into the game tonight. She was really focused. It was a nice way to have a first career double-double performance."

(on turnovers)
"Well, I certainly don't like turnovers. I'd always rather have fewer than more any day. Tonight, I don't think it was our decision-making at all."

(on our rebounding)
"Generally, I've been pleased with our rebounding since the Miami game. We've had a lot of improvement in that area and I think we have really refocused on going hard to the boards."

(opening statement
"I thought we as a coaching staff were a little worried about a possible letdown from the Baylor game, but I thought we came out and played with great intensity on the defensive end. We were aggressive with our traps. I thought we made them play fast, and I was very proud of our defensive effort. Offensively, I thought we attacked, we got open looks and knocked down open looks. I thought in the Baylor game, we did not knock down open looks, but tonight we did. We got 37 points from our bench and as a coach, that's exciting. When your whole team contributes, that's a great sign for us. So overall, I'm very pleased. I'm excited that everybody got some minutes, and we'll have some good footage both offensively and defensively to evaluate the team."

(on explanation the bench received on Vicki Baugh's technical foul)
"I don't know. From my standpoint, I thought Vicki stepped in to kind of settle down Izzy (Harrison), but I'll have to watch the tape. It's two kids being aggressive and going for the ball, and that happens."

(on preparing team for upcoming run of ranked opponents early in the season and finding roles for team members)
"We have to take every game at a time, and we've got to make sure we have the ability to use our bench. As we want our starters to get us off to a great start, we'll rely on our bench because of how aggressively we play offensively and defensively. So we're going to have to use everyone strategically and we're going to have to take one game at a time. It's a tough stretch. Texas comes in, then we go on the road for four games, and we have a big challenge ahead of us. I think with our focus and us just taking one game at a time, that's going to be the biggest challenge for us."

(on talking with players of importance of upcoming stretch of games)
"We're still addressing the Virginia game and how we need to get better and how we can't have those kinds of letdowns. We're not addressing it like `this is going to affect us in the tournament,' but we want to make sure we get better, and we cannot have a letdown as we did. We're everybody's biggest game. We're a great game for Virginia, and we went in and we had no energy, and we're going to keep using that game to make sure our kids are focused.

"I thought today we wanted to make sure Baylor wasn't a fluke, that we didn't just get hyped up and fired up because we were playing the No. 1 team in the country. We wanted to make sure we came out with energy against Middle Tennessee State and anybody else we play."

(on getting points off turnovers in the first half against Middle Tennessee)
"I thought we were very aggressive in our defensive schemes. The first half, we trapped a little bit out of our zone and we created offensive opportunities for us."

(on Cierra Burdick's night)
"Cierra's just needed some minutes and an opportunity to get out there and play. I was proud of her. I was proud of Isabelle (Harrison). I was proud of Ariel (Massengale) as well. I thought our freshmen contributed, and I was excited to see Cierra get some minutes."

(on the ideal player rotation size for the team)
"Can you win with seven? Absolutely. Can you win with nine? Of course. You just have to understand when to use them and what kind of combinations to use. So we're trying to work through some combinations. We keep getting in foul trouble. We pulled Vicki out early because she got a really quick foul, and our posts seemed to get a foul and pick up another foul. So we're just trying to work through our rotations and hopefully by the SEC Tournament we'll figure out which combinations play together. As long as we do what we did tonight where everybody gets the opportunity and they're effective, then we'll play everybody on the bench."

(on Ariel Massengale leading the team early at point guard)
"I thought Ariel was the most aggressive she's been all year. She attacked the basket. I thought she played good defense. I thought she ran the basketball team, and that's what we need from her. We need a strong presence on the offensive end, and I thought she took control and was extremely aggressive. And when she comes in, she makes plays, she makes layups, she makes assists, then we're difficult to defend. And I credit her being a smart, intelligent point guard in leading this basketball team."

(on if Massengale benefitted from playing Sunday against Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims)
"I thought it's a learning process for her. She's young. She's put in a position where she has to compete at the highest level, and I was proud of her. I was proud of how she played against Baylor. She didn't knock down shots, but she's got to learn the intensity of the game, the fast pace of the game. She played against one of the best point guards in the country. And as long as it's a learning process for us, and as long as we keep learning and, of course, keep winning, then as coaches we're pleased. If we stop learning and we get in a lull, we have to coach motivation, we don't enjoy doing that. We're not doing our job. We're not coaching. We should not motivate young ladies. We should be able to teach and get them where they need to go."

(on hitting from the field)
"It was great. Just attacking the basket, at times I was settling for the outside jump shot, but attacking the basket and getting easy buckets."

(on the challenge of being point guard)
"I don't think it's a challenge. It comes with practice and just getting to know your teammates. I think I'm getting back in the rhythm, getting back into things with my teammates. In practice, learning about everybody, learning about my teammates and where they like to get the ball, what they like to do, and just learning them. That's all it is."

(on 17-0 run)
"It just comes with confidence and playing the game. Doing what the defense gives you. If I were open, and it looks like I should shoot the ball, I have to shoot the ball and make the open shot. If they're open, I pass it to them and they have to make the shot. It comes with playing as a team. We took it more as our defense and said, `Let's make our defense run our offense,' and that's what we did."

TENNESSEE SENIOR Shekinna Stricklen
(on starting with intensity)
"I think it matters a lot. We ended up being a little slow getting into the game. This was a big game for us, because we really needed to win and get back into a winning streak. Coming out with energy like that creates energy for the whole team for the whole game. It's something we have to do for every game."

(on playing ranked teams as preparation for March)
"We really haven't talked about (March). We just take it one game at a time. We have the toughest schedule, and we know that. We all know that when we come to Tennessee, and the teams that we've played already have been good teams and have really helped us out. With the two losses we have, we've really watched film and really learned from it. In practice every day, we hold each other accountable, and we really come in and work hard, especially on our defense and rebounding. We feel like those are two spots we really have to bring every game."

(on coaches harping on the Virginia loss)
"We do look at that. It was a big loss, and we look at it as, `it's over now.' It's a loss that really hurt us, but we really watched that film and learned a lot. That's another reason we've been bringing energy to the beginning of the game. We saw in the Virginia game that we had no energy, and no one was fired up to play. In the last couple of games, we started out with energy and came out to play. I feel like that's been a big part of it."

(on advice for players in a shooting slump)
"If you're a shooter, you keep shooting. I've been in a slump and finally came out of it. Talking to Ariel after the Baylor game and saying, `keep shooting,' and talking to Meighan about being positive and getting her confidence back. If you're a shooter, you just have to keep shooting, and the other stuff will fall in then. Just get in the gym and get more shots in."

(on first double-double)
"It was definitely needed, just for confidence. Lately, I haven't been playing to my fullest potential. I haven't been showing the coaches what I need to show them in practice. I'm just thankful that they gave me the opportunity, and I guess you could say I got a little lucky because preparation meant opportunity. I'm just blessed that I was able to get out there on the court and showcase my skills."

(on post-practice conversation yesterday)
"I've just been wondering why I haven't really been getting that much playing time, and I wanted them to be straightforward with me and tell me what I needed to do to improve and get more playing time. They basically told me I need to get better on one-on-one defense and defense period. So I just tried to really lock my player up, help my teammates, and really just play hard on the defensive end and let my offensive end come with it."

(on defense getting offense going)
"My teammates did a great job of getting in the passing lane until we switched to a 2-3 zone and then trapped them in the wings. That really threw them off because every time they went into a timeout to adjust to the defense we were just playing, we switched to another defense and trapped different parts of the court, so throwing different defenses at them and playing the paths and lanes really helped our teammates and got the momentum going."

(on going to Izzy in the second half)
"As teammates, and especially as freshmates, we have to stick together. I just didn't want anything to be penalized against Izzy. It was the heat of the moment, and all of our tempers can rise up, and I just really wanted to break that up and make sure that she didn't swing or Janay didn't swing, and to make sure both players were safe."

(opening remark)
"They're more athletic at every position, and we've got to learn from this and grow from it."

(on Tennessee's early run)
"I knew they'd be ready to play. I mean good gracious. You know championship teams (what Tennessee aspires to be). We've got our sights set on winning championships, too, but we're not at the level that Tennessee's at. You've got to come and play every night. Tonight they came and played Middle Tennessee. That run that they made, I think if you'll look back, Pat took out some of her players. I think Massengale might have been sitting on the bench and maybe Johnson at one time when they made that run. The kids that they bring in are so good. I said this before to my coaches; I say this to ya'll. When they shoot the basketball, they got a shot to win the national championship, if they shoot the basketball, if they knock down shots, but of course if you live by that, you also die by it, but they're as athletic, as good as anybody in the country that I've seen, and I've seen most of them either last year on TV, this year so far. When they shoot the basketball, it matters not."

(on Middle Tennessee's low shooting percentage)
"Their length, their length, and I mean they've got so much length, and they've got so much lateral quickness, and they make you work so hard. You exert so much energy trying to defend. We're not as deep, and when we have to go into our bench right now we're not ready, and I don't know that we would be ready to defend them, but thank goodness they're not in our conference (laughter)."

(on the turnovers)
"I think that little 2-3 zone they trapped the wing, cut it off back to the point guard. We get a little short corner. We talked most of the halftime about that. We looked short corner in the second half, but they may not have been as aggressive in the second half as they were the first half."

(on Tennessee needing to go inside more)
"Don't take me wrong on this, but I don't coach Tennessee. Pat and her staff are as good as anybody in the country. If they think they need to go inside, they'll go inside, and don't get me wrong. I'm not being a smart aleck, especially not tonight. Believe me."

(on the Middle Tennessee/UT series restarting)
"Well, I hope so. We enjoy playing them. We had I think 11,800 two years ago at our place. I think they had 11,800 tonight. A lot of people might begrudge coming to play the University of Tennessee; I don't. We fall into that because our kids need that type of pressure. They need to play in front of those types of crowds, our place and their place. You know, it helps both programs. Thank goodness Pat will play us and Joan will play us because we really appreciate them coming down. We want our basketball fans to see good basketball games, and hopefully the next time we can give them a better game than we did tonight."





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